Chad Lonski is a Land Acquisition Analyst at Melia Homes who recently graduated from the USC BRED Program in 2018. While Chad was a student, he was heavily involved in TREA, internships, and professional organizations, which has better prepared him for his current role.
As a member of TREA, Chad served on the Executive Board as Director of Off-Campus Events, and since he was in charge of site tours and firm visits, it exposed him to firms he wasn’t already familiar with. Having this role with TREA gave him leadership experience in a form of project management (scheduling students, buses, alumni, coordination etc.) and helped with organizational skills. Chad also joined ULI as a senior and says it provides good exposure to the real estate world at large and goes beyond the USC network.
Furthermore, Chad also held three internships before he graduated. He first worked at the County of Orange Planning Department, which gave him exposure to the planning approval process on the public side. Then, in the Spring of his Junior year, Chad worked for The Reason Foundation in Playa Vista, libertarian/free market think-tank, on the transportation policy team. He helped research a wide range of transportation issues including, light rail land use, toll lanes/surface transportation, air traffic control. and automatized vehicles. This helped Chad develop an understanding of larger urban issues, where he got to see everything from a day-to-day development process to the effects of national policy. Lastly, Chad interned for the Olson Company starting in the summer and extending through the Fall of his Senior year. At the Olson Company, Chad worked in land acquisition and project management, giving him direct exposure to the development process where he assisted in acquiring land, entitlements, and development.
Chad got his current position at Melia Homes by conducting informational interviews. As a senior, Chad had an informational interview with President of Melia Homes, B.J. Delzer, and a few months later, he got a call from Melia Homes HR to be interviewed for a position. Chad credits the informational interview and being able to talk about his background in a non-interview setting as one of the main reasons for getting his current job.
At Melia Homes, every day is different for Chad. He does financial underwriting for current sites, stays in contact with property owners, performs land use analysis, and market analysis to find target cities and regions where there is a competitive advantage for attainable housing in built-out areas. Chad looks for housing markets that are constrained in supply because their target market is the middle-market consumer who wants to purchase a new home in an established neighborhood.
Currently, Chad potentially sees himself either going to Law School, pursuing an MBA, or getting a graduate degree in urban planning, where the focus would be on economics and market research. His advice for students about to graduate is to examine where you would best provide value and find a place where you would enjoy working. Be open to options early in your career and talk to as many professionals to broaden perspectives. This helps with narrowing down decision making. With more exposure to real estate, you’ll have a better understanding of the full development process from conceptual ideas, financing, construction, and selling a property.